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Lamb Tagine with Apricots and Prunes

April 16, 2013

Our dear friends Frank and Merle are  spending a week in Morocco. I didn’t fit into their suitcase. Besides, it’s probably not a good idea to consider being a stowaway these days. Will simply have to shelve that romantic notion and wait patiently for their return so that I can experience the wonders vicariously. In the meantime, I can entertain myself (and you) with Moroccan-Inspired Lamb.

There’s something about preparing meat with fruit that has a festive vibe to it.  It’s special, no matter if you are using oranges, apricots, prunes or kumquats (yes, kumquats–our tree continues to be prolific).  So it’s natural that when I started brainstorming what dishes I was going to prepare for Passover ( don’t laugh- I know it feels like a year ago, but it’s only a few weeks – if you can believe that), that lamb tagine with prunes and apricots was a natural choice.  I made it in time to share it with you, dear readers, in time for Passover.  (Ha!  Not!) It sits  sat all ready to go in the freezer.  But there was a hitch.  In my flurry of cleaning and cooking and preparing, my art director, aka my Novio, protested that I did not have a suitable image to adequately convey the lusciousness of this dish.  We discussed, we debated, we engaged in numerous points and counter-points, until I grudgingly had to concede. It might have been his trick to get me to make it again.

I tested it with bone-in lamb and boneless. The bone-in was fork-tender for the most part but there was some gristle (not very good).

lamb shoulder, bone-in

The boneless cut was of course, costlier and had more chew but was very tasty and so I have to go with the boneless cut.

lamb shoulder, boneless

The start of so many dishes worldwide is the sauteing of onions. No exception here.

chopped onion

This is what makes the dish special.

The sweetness of apricots and prunes

The sweetness of apricots and prunes

Some people like a few sliced almonds sprinkled over the finished dish.

lamb tagine finished with sliced almonds

So don’t sweat the small stuff, right?  This type of dish is perfect for any special family meal or holiday gathering. Robbie, this one’s for you….

Lamb with Apricots and Prunes

Lamb Tagine with Roasted New Potatoes and Steamed Asparagus

Lamb Tagine with Apricots and Prunes

1 T. (15 ml.) olive or grape seed oil
2 onions chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. (1 kg.) lamb shoulder, boneless, cut in 2″ chunks OR 3-4 lbs. (1 3/4 kg.) lamb shoulder, bone-in,  cut into chunks
pinch of saffron
1/2 t. (2.5 g.) cinnamon
1/2 t. (2.5 g.) ginger
1/2 t. each (2.5 g)  salt and black pepper
1 1/2 c. (360 ml.) chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 c. (120 ml.) water
1 c. (200 g.) prunes
3/4 c. (170 g.) apricots
1 t. (5 ml.) honey (optional)
1/2 c. (90 g.)   lightly toasted sliced almonds


Heat oil in Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot. Add onions and cook over medium heat for a few minutes until soft but not browned. Add garlic and stir. Then add lamb chunks and slowly cook for 5 minutes. Sprinkle saffron, ginger, cinnamon, salt and pepper over meat.  Pour liquid over. Bring liquid up to a simmer and lower heat to a very gentle simmer.

Simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours, or until lamb is tender. Stir  occasionally. Add prunes and apricots and cook for 15 more minutes.Add honey, if using, just before lamb is finished cooking. If desired, sprinkle sliced almonds over dish when serving.

Serves 6.


From → Beef/Lamb

  1. florene rozen permalink

    Dear Judy, I make a similar chicken dish and love it. North African cuisine is my favorite food. Thank you for doing this column. What a piece of art! Florene

  2. Hannah, Israel permalink

    I’m thinking Rosh Hashana…
    Looks great!

  3. Fgstrauss permalink

    Judy: What a wonderful piece you have written. Hope you have a wonderful weekend visit in Columbus. By the way, while eating frozen yogurt in west LA, who walks in and sits down, but Anna … we had a nice visit and talk. Gotta start packing … we leave Monday, return this time to Santa Fe rather than LA, then return to LA mid-June. Will keep in touch …. can’t wait to try your Lamb Tagine recipe … I love that dish. Hope to learn more about it in Morocco … got to be some additional secrets … best, Frank

  4. Laurel permalink

    Yum! And I’m glad that you give direction for a dutch oven since I don’t have a tagine. I actually was inspired to make preserved lemons after hosting a shabbat at home meal for A.T. to which Vivian brought a spinach dish with preserved lemons in it. Do you think that preserved lemons could be added to this in place of the salt? Or perhaps the smart thing would be to make rice with preserved lemons to go with it. I agree with Florene about North African cuisine-it’s pretty compelling.

    I love your Novio’s subtlety-no good pictures, darn it! You’re just going to have to make it again!

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